The European Commission is urging lobster fishermen along the west coast of Ireland whose livelihoods are under threat because of a drop in prices to set up a producers’ organisation in order to strengthen their position in the market.
The Commission has confirmed that monies are available from the European Fisheries Fund for the establishment and development of such a co-operative.
The plight of west coast lobster fishermen has been raised by Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins with Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Joe Borg. Mr Higgins has told the Commissioner that the price lobster fishermen are receiving for their catch has fallen to €10 a kilo, the same price as they were receiving back in the 1970s.
The Commissioner has confirmed that in 2006 2.5 tonnes of lobster were imported into Ireland from the United States and 118 tonnes from Canada. The Commission also admitted that because of the decline of sterling versus the euro it is possible that Irish products are facing competition from United Kingdom lobsters in the traditional continental markets.
Urging the Irish fishermen to avail of the European Fisheries Fund the Commission made the point that collective action to promote their products such as lobster could help in attracting higher demand and better prices.
In reply Mr Higgins said: “I am disappointed that there is no compensation available for the drop in prices but perhaps the co-op suggestion from the Commission might help fishermen to weather the storm and protect their livelihoods.”